“What We Saw” Book Review

“What We Saw” is a book by Aaron Hartzler, which shines a light on high school teenagers and the difference between consented and nonconsensual sex.  It also displays the way an athlete can easily get out of trouble for committing a crime by forcing their victim to be quiet with intimidation tactics. According to Pacific Standard, one in six men would be willing to use force to obtain sex from women as long as there were no consequences for their actions. This is common in high schools and colleges, especially when the perpetrator or the victim is intoxicated or not in their right minds.


The conflict of the book is the main character deciding whether she should side with the athlete who says the altercation was consensual and wanted on both sides or the victim who says that she was raped and taken advantage of when she was in a vulnerable state. She is swayed by her boyfriend’s opinion, which is friends with the perpetrator and also the town’s opinion. Because the town is leaning on the perpetrator, since he is the star athlete, this makes things even more complicated.

Hartzler does a great job of showing us the true, gritty details of a rape case in high school. He shows us the emotions, the actions, the tears, and the changes that can occur when a crime as serious as rape enters your life and the lives of the people around you. Rape is a serious crime and Hartzler shows us the exact reason that victims can be scared to come out against their abuser. But, he also allows us to see the good in people and see that there are people who will stand by the victim, even in their weakest points in life.